If you’re a playwright starting out you’re going to get a lot of advice about how you should write your play.
Here’s my advice: write without rules.
I think you need to write a lot and you need to write every day. When you write you learn. And what you’re learning is how you, as a writer, like to work. You’re learning about the things you like to write about. You’re learning about your voice.
So, the first thing not to worry about is length.
How long should the play be? Should it have an intermission or should it be a long single act or could it be three acts or maybe even five. None of that matters.
You can write a one page play or a two hundred page play. Length doesn’t matter; story matters. Write the play the length it needs to be to tell the story you need to tell.
Having said that – when it comes time to rewrite your play that’s when you start to cut and edit and adjust the time so that you don’t bore your audience.
Second don’t worry about the number of characters in your story.
Write a one person show or a fifty person show. Have as many characters as you need. Have more characters than you need. Throw characters in – take them out – merge three characters into one. See what that does to your story. Experiment. Discover. Play around with characters and see what happens.
Third, don’t worry about writing an outline. That is, unless you like to write an outline.
Some writers just like to sit down and start writing and other writers like to make a plan before they dive into their story. Telling a writer who likes to write on the fly to write an outline kills that writer’s creativity. Telling a writer who likes to plan – not to plan – can be just as deadly.
Not every painter or musician or writer likes to work the same way because the process of creativity is different for all of us.
Write without rules so that you can discover what works for you and then write your own rules.
And once you’ve written your own rules don’t be afraid to break them and try something new.